Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Jessica Sharzer
Based on: Jeanne Ryan’s novel
Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Kimiko Glenn, Marc John Jefferies, Machine Gun Kelly, Juliette Lewis, Samira Wiley
Seen on: 10.9.2016
When Vee (Emma Roberts) is accused by her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) that she always plays it safe, Vee impulsively decides to get active in Nerve, an online game of Dare that is making the rounds among the teenagers of the city. Her first dares are innocent enough and bring her in touch with another participant, Ian (Dave Franco). They decide to team up. But the longer they play, the higher the stakes. And soon Vee finds that she can’t get out of the game anymore and she doesn’t even know if she can actually trust Ian.
I didn’t expect much from Nerve, but it turns out it’s an absolutely entertaining film. It’s not a masterpiece in any sense of the word, but it’s enjoyable popcorn cinema.
The plot of Nerve sounds much like Cheap Thrills or 13 Sins, so not all that new (though transferring it into a young adult setting and actually letting a woman play was at least something else) and it turns out that both Vee and Ian are pretty much stock characters without much depth or unusual qualities. That being said, at least they were likeable, also due to Franco and Roberts who are simply likeable actors and managed to transfer that to their characters.
So, even though they are pretty boring and conservative when it comes to their writing, you do feel for and with them. And while the plot is not all that innovative or unpredictable in the slightest, they do pace it well, so the film whisks you along and you can settle into its rhythm, lean back and enjoy it with your brain turned off.
There were a couple of things that did bother me though, despite my shut-down brain. The “prisoners” part of the game went a step too far for me and stretched my suspension of disbelief too thin. And Ian’s backstory (you bet your ass it’s tragic) was more annyoing and way too cliché (of course he behaves like an asshole sometimes, look what happened to him, the important thing is that he meant well).
But neither of those things were bad enough to really bring me down. Neither was anything about the film really great so as to lift me up (apart from the to me surprising appearance of Samira Wiley). Without any considerable highs or lows, the film moves along at above average level, but never really reaching beyond satisfying.